What's your story

This massive quilt is made of over 70 blocks answering: 'what Canada means to me'

The Paris Quilting Bees of Ontario set out to create something special for Canada 150.
The Paris Quilting Bees of Ontario set to create something special for Canada 150. What member Deborah Desforges didn't expect, was how the result would make her feel. (Deborah Desforges)

What does Canada mean to me? That is a question 60 members of the Paris Quilting Bees in Ontario asked themselves. Then, they got sewing. Throughout 2017, we're asking Canadians, "What's your story?" Earlier this year, Deborah Desforges, of Paris, Ont., shared hers.

For the last 18 months, the Paris Quilting Bees have been thinking about, planning and creating one very large banner to celebrate Canada's 150th.

We had the perfect theme: "what Canada means to me." Each quilt block would tell each quiltmaker's story, reflecting Canadiana at its best.

At first, many members were not sure what Canada meant to them. We started receiving quilt blocks, a few at first and then a few more. There were the typical Canadian symbols, the maple leaf, the loon, the Mountie and so on.

The quilt in progress. (Deborah Desforges )

More and more quilt blocks were finished, and the imagination and creativity was sparked. The blocks were starting to tell their own unique stories. We now had campsites, puffins, a sugar bush and even the Stanley Cup!

Then came the moose, our beautiful four seasons, a lighthouse from the East, an inukshuk from the North, and the Bluenose herself.

Members of the Paris Quilting Bees. (Deborah Desforges)

Finally our banner was finished and proudly displayed at our local Sports Complex. I knew it would be beautiful. The impressive size (seven feet wide and 12.5 feet long) and beauty of the banner was in fact breathtaking.

What I didn't expect was "the moment" — the moment when the wave of patriotism and great appreciation for my country rushed over me when the banner was unfurled. It brought a tear to my eye and touched my heart deeply. I could see it in others as well.

The conversations began, "the moose is my favourite, I saw one in the wild up north once." Then, "My wife was a quilter, she would have loved this." Another onlooker stepped forward, "I love the blocks that show the nature and beauty of Canada," and this went on.

It was an wonderful impromptu meeting of  friends, neighbours and strangers each talking about what Canada means to them— a wonderful and inspiring conversation. And this is what Canada means to me.

(Deborah Desforges)

What's your story? What defines Canada for you? Is there a time that you were proud to be Canadian, or perhaps a time you felt disappointed? Is there a place, person, or event in your life that sums up what being Canadian is to you? Tell us at cbc.ca/ whatsyourstory.


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